Author's Note: After several requests for this, here's the last chapter. It's a little bit different, I tried to make sense out of why this would happen. Lol. In a crackfic, that's hard. Anyway, I hope you enjoy it. And thanks everyone for reading.
"This is ridiculous. Hunters don't mix with civilians. Our lives depend on secrecy." John Winchester grumbled.
"That may be," Bobby conceded calmly, "But these folks are doing us a favor by being here to answer frivolous calls, so we don't run around checking out nonexistent cases. Least we can do is help 'em out by taking over the phone lines while they get the proper training."
"A helpline." John huffed. "Unbelievable."
"It is kinda weird." Sam agreed. "How did this even start?"
"And how have they managed to keep it mostly on the dl?" Dean asked.
Bobby answered as he continued from the large conference room full of call aids in class to the lobby. "It's all run pretty much how we do things, just on a bigger scale. The number travels in circles, a friend of a friend, someone who'd had some trouble a while back passes it on. It's all anonymous. If a call does present a real case where a hunter is needed, the caller is connected to one via the call center so no personal information is exchanged until both parties are satisfied with the arrangement. Not even the hunters own number."
"Sounds complicated." Dean commented.
Bobby nodded. "It's pretty detailed from start to finish. It was set up by a hunters' widow, very rich widow, and all costs and arrangements are done through her or other donors."
"Wait." Sam stopped. "Donors?"
Dean's brows shot up. "Weirdos donate to this thing?"
Bobby snorted. "Not like you're thinking. Most people outside our circle would rather have them committed than donate money. No, everyone connected to this organization has been touched by the supernatural in some way. Hunters families, people who've been helped by hunters in the past, people who've had experiences normal people never will. Some donate, some sit on the board of directors with Jimmy's widow, some volunteer. Where do you think they got all the people who work the call center, off the street?"
"I just never thought..." Sam was amazed and curious. "I wouldn't think something like this existed."
"Me either." John shook his head in exasperation. "This is crazy even for us."
Dean smirked. "I take it you don't like the idea." To be honest he thought it was weird too. And boring. Who'd wanna sit behind a phone all day talking about the supernatural when you could be out hunting it instead?
"Understatement." John snorted. "It's a damned fool idea." Which is why he'd never told them about it or taken part. Until now. Sigh. "I can't believe I let you talk me in to this." He said glaring at his old friend.
Bobby glared back. "Just helping out a friend. We owe him remember?" Every hunter knew repaying old debts was important. It was like an unspoken code.
John sighed. "Yeah, I know." Freaking Malcombe. Their debt wasn't this large. He'd helped them close out a big hunt, not saved their lives. It wasn't that he was ungrateful, but as he nervously glanced around at the eyes tracking their progress, he felt very exposed. Hunters didn't act out in the open damnit. It was a rule. You did what you had to and you kept quiet about it. Now they were in a room full of people and all of them knew what they were.
"So why are we here again?" Dean interrupted John's inner monologue.
"We're to help fill in for some new staff in training and also be an example." Bobby motioned to their destination. A room full of desks, chairs, phones and people. Some had books spread across them that resembled Bobby's library. "They'll come out and watch us take some calls. The best way for them to do good here is to be well trained, that includes the tutoring of hunters."
"Which explains the conference room." Sam concluded.
"Yep. Retired hunters come in and show 'em the ropes. Not enough to land them in a padded cell, but enough to be of use. And different people get different levels of training depending on their experiences."
"Huh." Dean had to admit, it was some setup.
"Here. This is us." Bobby stopped, gesturing to four empty desks in the row.
"What now?" Sam asked.
As if brought up from his conscious, a spritely strawberry blonde appeared next to them. Smiling, she stuck out her hand. "Hi, I'm Aura. I'm the supervisor of the level 5 section. I'll help you get settled in and you're on your way."
Dean smiled appreciatively at the pretty girl and stuck out a hand. "Hi. I'm Dean."
Knowing she was being charmed, Aura smiled ruefully and shook his hand. "I know. I've heard about you."
Dean was taken back. "You have, huh?"
"Oh yes. Word gets around, you know." The tone implied she had his number, so to speak.
John covered a laugh with a cough into his fist as Sam grinned watching his brother get shot down. At his expression, she laughed and her smile widened. "Don't think I'm not tempted, but I'm in a committed relationship." She winked. "My friend however has threatened to disown me if I don't introduce you later."
Dean smirked and Sam rolled his eyes. "Okay, that's enough of that. Down to business." Introductions were finished and the men were all seated.
"This is your phone panel, this is how you take calls from each line, it lights red when you get incoming, blue if it's a transfer. A transfer is what we do based on the level of the callers need, the bigger ones come here to section 5. Demons, Wendigos, etc. If you get a low class call, section 4-1 which handle ghosts, etc, you just hit this button." She explained it all and then handed each of them a memo with the basics on it. "If you have questions or need help, just come find me. Good luck." She waved and took her leave.
John groaned and leaned back in his chair. Friggin' great. What have I walked into? Like an office job. Suck it up and get it done Winchester. "Alright, let's do this." He said to the group. They nodded and so the calls began.
"Helpline, this is John. What's the problem?"
"I'm in the woods and there's something hunting us."
"Yes, I'm on my satellite phone."
"And did you get a good look at what it is? Sure it's not a bear?" You get a big enough bear running at you, you could think some monster was going to rip you apart in the dark.
"This is no bear. It moves fast, nearly too fast to see. It took our flashlights. It's on two legs like a man, but there are claws...it got a friend of mine in the side. Tried to run off with him, or torches scared it off. We thought we'd heard someone calling, when Jeff walked out to see what it was..."
Bipedal, fast, can throw it's voice and is afraid of fire. Crap. "Sir, it sounds like it might be a Wendigo. They're nasty and hard to kill. Only fire can do it."And if it catches you it eats you. No need to share that part. "Do you have any flares or booze and rags? To make a cocktail?"
"Um...We have a bottle of Jack and one flare gun. The other was in the flashlight pack."
"Okay, here's what you do. You have seconds before this thing is on you. You have to make every shot count. Aim for the chest and light the bastard up."
"Right." The man must've turned to a companion and was firing off instructions. John heard a chorus of affirmatives in the background, and one idiot bound to get them killed. "You can't just kill it! It's likely an unknown and endangered species!"
John's caller snapped impatiently, "Did you see what it did to Jeff? You really wanna try to reason with it? Idiot." He groused in disgust, turning back to the phone as he spoke.
"He gonna be a problem?" He asked, concerned one moron would lower their chances for survival.
"He's a conservation alist. And no, we're going to focus on saving our own asses, not this freaky beast."
"Remember, you only get one shot. Give me your coordinates so we can send back up. You may need a rescue team." He jotted it down, ended the call and relayed it to dispatch. He'd later find out Mr. Eco friendly had gotten eaten while trying to prevent the group from killing the creature. The rest of the men were fine, sans one who'd gone to the hospital for a lot of stitching.
"Helpline, this is Sam. What's your problem?"
"I think I have a ghost."
A ghost. That wasn't level 5 stuff, but.. He shrugged. Why transfer it? He could handle it easily enough. "What makes you think it's a ghost?"
"It started after I inherited this broach from a great aunt. I didn't really want to keep it because it's a little creepy. But it's all I have of hers, you know?"
Sam had a feeling. "What about it made you uncomfortable?"
"Well...the hair in it. It's a mourning broach. She said the hair was cut from a dead relative and placed inside as a remembrance."
Human remains. "Right. That can certainly be enough to draw a spirit. Do you feel threatened by it? Has it tried to hurt you?"
"Well, no. He just sits around in our easy chair and watches the TV. He seems fascinated by it. And our CD player. Kitchen appliances."
Oookay. "So it hasn't actually bothered you, but it makes you uncomfortable."
"The way to get rid of it is by burning the hair inside the pin. That ties it to this plain."
"Oh, but I couldn't do that! He's family."
Sam scratched his head, confused. "Well, ma'am I'm not sure what else to tell you. You can either get rid of the spirit or learn to live with it." So far it did seem to be a peaceful cohabitation.
"Well," She sounded flustered. "I guess he's not really hurting anything. And who gets along all the time with their relatives anyway? We'll just have to work something out."
Sam frowned. Some people were weird, but hey, if she didn't mind. "Right. Well, as long as he continues to be docile there's no problem. But if it ever escalates, remember to burn the hair."
"Right." She said firmly. "Thank you, you've been a big help."
"Sure thing." He hung up and turned to find Aura frowning at him. "Uh. Hi." He said frowning himself. She looked put out.
"Sam, did I just hear you wrapping up a haunting?"
"Um, yeah. I know you said to transfer those, but I could handle it easy enough, so I thought-"
"It's important to follow procedure on trans calls Sam. It may not seem like a big deal, but there's a lot involved in what we do here. There's paperwork and accounting to consider, not to mention more serious calls could get backed up waiting."
Paperwork? "I'm sorry, I didn't know."
She smiled. "It's okay. Some of us here have done that ourselves once. Just be careful." She started to walk away, but turned back. "And Sam?"
"You did a great job with that caller."
He smiled, not feeling as much in the doghouse. "Thanks."
"Supernatural helpline, this is Dean."
"My ex's new boyfriend is possessed or something."
"How do you figure?" This better not be a jealous boyfriend again.
"His eyes are black as coal and he's strange."
Black eyes. Yahtzee. "That does sound like possession. Demons can be nasty guys. Not something an amateur should try to take on."
"Are you sure, 'cause I got this holy water at church and I thought..."
"Testing him wouldn't hurt I guess. If you're careful. Now what I'd do is-"
"Hang on." The sound of footsteps running. Then an outranged yell and some sputtering. "Demon be gone!"
Dean groaned. Oh boy.
"What's wrong with you?! Are you crazy?"
"Your eyes are black, I know what you are!" The guy shouted at the new boyfriend presumably.
"You're mental man. My eyes aren't black." He removed a small disk from the surface of his eye.
"They're contacts you jerk!" The girlfriend yelled. "Stay away from us or I'll call the cops, freak." Footsteps stomped off and a bashful voice returned to the line.
"Um.. I think I made a mistake."
"I'll say dude. Why didn't you wait for me to finish? I was gonna say put some in a beer and get him to drink it or offer him a glass of water. Not throw it in his face."
"My bad." The man said timidly.
Dean sighed. How much longer did he have to do this?
"Helpline, this is Bobby. What's the problem?"
A group of new center staffers walked quietly up behind him. So this was the observation part of the deal. Well, this wasn't distracting or anything. Trying to ignore them he listened to his caller.
"I have this rash looking thing on my thigh. It's like a face. It just keeps coming back."
He fought raising a brow since he was being watched. This was new. He'd heard of mark of the lamb, but a face... hm. "Can you describe it?"
"I don't know. A face. Creepy, maybe one inch wide, one and a half long. Kinda wrinkled, old looking."
"I've heard of phantom markings before, but none like this. Have you fought with anyone lately, moved, acquired new furniture?"
"Uh... nothing like this. Wait, I did get a new antique bed recently. My wife found it in a shop and had to have it. Freakin' ugly thing too."
"That could be the source if something is attached to it. Did you get any documentation or background on it when you bought it?"
"No. They'd had it for ages, tucked in back. No wonder. So ugly no one would buy it. Who wants a carved bed frame and headboard these days?"
Bobby paused and wondered if the guy had considered his purchase. "Carved?"
"Well, on top and the sides..." He drifted off as Bobby's train of thought caught on. "Crap."
"Go check." Bobby ordered. He waited as the man walked to the bed and dropped down to peer at the side.
There close to where he slept was the face. One he'd easily cover if he threw his leg over the bed, like he usually slept. "Uh. I think I found it."
Bobby rubbed a hand over his chin and asked, "Been sleeping on it?"
He nodded. "I thought so. You've been imprinting yourself every night." Which explains the depression the next morning.
"Sorry to bother you."
"Better safe than sorry." But what a call.
And so they went for the next three hours. The group of trainees came and went, the men fielded all kinds of calls, some legit and some bizarre - really bizarre. At least the supernatural made a kind of sense, people were crazy. And then finally, blessedly, it was over.
Aura came by and signaled them all. They happily hung up their phones and grunted as they stretched. "You did great gentlemen. And you've been such a help to our class. Sam, your call about the Hippogriff was a new one for the center. We were glad to have you here to answer it." No one else had had a clue.
He smiled and nodded. "Dean, good handling of the hysterical woman who believed her refrigerator was possessed by a demon and was trying to kill her by closing on her every time she left it open. But telling her to call Sears and then a shrink might have been a bit rough."
He shrugged and nodded, but hey, she'd needed a repair man for a lose fridge door and in his opinion - lots of therapy for her imagination.
"John, that was only the second Harpy call we've had and you handled it expertly. But that call next to last..."
"I was within my rights." The woman hadn't wanted to get dirty or break a nail to put down wards till a hunter could get to her. If she refused to accept help, then he was free to tell her "Fine. Let it in so it can eat you. Don't say I didn't warn you sweetheart."
Aura cleared her throat. "Yes, well..." She turned to Bobby. "That was clever thinking on forging a point in the handle of a copper pot to kill a Rachasa. The poor man probably would've tried beating it to death with it instead." Her eyes twinkled as if she'd laugh, but she remained professional. "Malcombe is thrilled with the results and wanted me to thank you again for your help."
John's brows rose. "He's here?" If he saw him...
"No, he popped in to check on you, but didn't want to disturb you by saying hello. Said he had some business to attend to."
I'll just bet he did, the rat. He was lucky he was hiding. That was alright. Someday John would land a hunt no one wanted, like a bog beast, he'd pass that right on to good old Mal.
"Anyway, you're free to go. But you can come back anytime you like. We'd love to have you."
"Uh, thanks." Sam answered diplomatically. He could tell Dean and John had had a rough three hours. They'd rather hunt things than talk about them, let alone deal with a not always receptive public. The sooner they got out of here, the better. Even Bobby, who'd been most open to the arrangement looked frazzled.
Exchanging goodbyes they walked toward the exit. "Man I'm glad that's over." Dean said rolling his eyes.
"Me too." John frowned. "I don't know how anyone does that day after day."
"It was more involved than I thought." Bobby agreed.
"It wasn't so bad." Even though someone asking for his autograph on their break had been weird. Three pairs of eyes slid to look at Sam and he hastened to add, "But I wouldn't want to do it again."
They remained silent and kept walking. Once outside, Dean breathed deep of the fresh air. "Ah. That's better. Whatdya say we hit a bar? I could use a beer." He needed to unwind after an afternoon trapped in the building behind them. Even getting Aura's friends number hadn't been worth that.
"Same here. Hungry too." John added.
"Sounds good to me." Bobby said and Sam nodded.
"Let's get the heck out of here." Dean grumbled striding to the Impala. Sam slid in next to him as John and Bobby got in the truck behind them. Dean started the car and let it's purr wash over him as he pushed in a cassette. AC/DC poured from the speakers and tension drained away as he sighed. He looked over at his brother as he pulled out, Dad and Bobby following and held in a smile. Who needed 9 to 5? Family and the open road was the only way to live.